Princess Pumpkin the Pocket House Alpaca
Sat. was a milestone day for our sweet Princess Pumpkin and frankly a huge relief for us as alpaca parents. At a little over 3 months old, Pumpkin is now 30 pounds. That may not sound like a lot for 3 month old cria, but she was born 5.5 pounds and went spend the first weeks of her life getting excited over a few ounces of weight gain. But the even bigger win was a visit to Dr. Jana to check her blood work. Pumpkin has been suffering from severe anemia from an iron deficiency. So we have been giving her supplements since Jan and hoping it would make a difference.
Back in Feb her levels had improved a tiny amount, but she was still in a bad place. After consulting with one of the universities, Dr. Jana had given us the bad news that when alpacas have very low iron levels ironically they can't absorb iron until the iron levels are normal. Apparently there is an enzyme that is not produced until the levels are normal. Evolution really messed up on that one. The solution was an iron shot. The horrible news was 1 in about 500 animals die within the first 10 minutes of the shot and another group dies of liver failure. The idea of giving this amazing soul that we have nurtured, loved and shared our lives with for the last 3 months a shot that might kill her on the spot was really something we were not prepared for.
So we kept giving her supplements in hopes that by some miracle she would continue to improve enough. 3 weeks passed and we headed back to Dr. Jana's for bloodwork. We anxiously awaited to see what the results would be for her red blood cell levels. The tubes came out of the centrifuge and it was clear there had been improvement. Dr. Jana looked at the cart and her levels were normal! The patience and careful attention to supplements had worked! No need for an iron shot! There was lots of high fives and hugs. Then we went next door to Windy Hill to visit our friends. We heard shouting, "Pumpkin's here!" as we drove up. Our little survivor has garnered a fan club. I these rough times that we live in we all need some inspiration and the tiny alpaca that refused to give has not only survived, but is starting to thrive. She has touched all of our hearts and we just want to thank everyone that has followed her progress and given so much love, support and positive energy.
Life with Pumpkin...
Pumpkin now spends 6 to 8 hours a day outside with her mom Blossom. While Blossom handled being in the house really well for the first couple of months. It's definitely made our lives easier to not have an adult, not so house trained alpaca in the house even if she was just staying in the laundry room. I think you can imagine what that was like. Mr. Clean was our best friend for a while.
Pumpkin still spends the night in the house. We still have a daily routine of bottle in the morning, go spend time outside with mom and then come back to the house in the afternoon. Pumpkin is always ready to go see mom and then at the end of the day she is ready to come back to the house. Oh yes, our little princess has become a house alpaca.
She is now completely house trained. We have doggy pee pads in her room (the laundry room) and any time she needs to go while in the house, so goes into her room to do her business. As Pumpkin has gotten bigger, started eating solid food we have had to start alpaca proofing the house. She LOVES to chew on papers and books and can now reach any mail sitting on kitchen table. Yep that's been fun. She has also mastered the stairs in our house, so the threshold that used to limit her movement through the house is great fun to run and jump over. Late in the evening she usually get's a burst of energy and tears up and down the hallways, through the house, up and down the three stairs that separate kitchen from the living room.
Pumpkin has developed an amazing personality and we have had the opportunity to see first hand just how smart alpacas really are. When I get home from work every night she wants one kiss and get's very upset if I don't give her one when I walk in the door. She still has that alpaca standoffishness, but she also loves people and just had this confident air about her. Pumpkin still sits on the couch at night and watches TV. If need to put her in her room, all we have to do is ask her to go in. The most amazing thing is we don't really use a specific command. She seems to understand us rather well.
Of course there is hay everywhere. Pumpkin loves to spread more of it across the living room than she eats and she has taught the dogs to eat hay. That never turns out well. :-/ So there are interesting challenges having a part-time house alpaca. But she has blessed our lives and we would not trade her for the world.